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Northwestern University has signed an agreement with Coursera to provide selected NU courses to global students through Coursera’s digital platform for massive open online courses, or MOOCs.

Coursera Wednesday announced agreements with Northwestern and 28 other universities from 13 countries to bring more than 90 new courses online and available globally to any interested lifelong learner.

The new group of universities from across America and from Mexico, Europe and Asia — joins the 33 other institutions currently offering courses on Coursera.

Coursera’s mission is to educate millions of people by offering a digital learning experience and classes and professors from top universities online at no cost.

The company has a comprehensive education platform that combines mastery-based learning principles with video lectures, interactive content and a global community of peers.

“We’re delighted to be joining Coursera in this exciting initiative in online education,” said Northwestern Provost Daniel Linzer.

“The University’s primary goal in working on the development of MOOCs is to give Northwestern faculty opportunities to experiment with new teaching tools, to reach a new and broader audience and to have an impact that extends beyond the campus,” Linzer said.

“We are very interested in evaluating learning outcomes from new modes of education,” he said. “This will allow us to explore new pedagogical and course delivery methods. It also will help us expand the visibility and impact of our faculty and our institution.”

This is the second foray into a new kind of online education for Northwestern in the last three months. 

In November, the University announced it had joined a consortium of leading universities to launch an innovative education program that would transform the current model of online education.

Semester Online, the new program, will be the first of its kind to offer undergraduate students the opportunity to take rigorous, small, online courses for credit from a consortium of top universities at comparable college costs.

The program will be delivered in real time through a virtual classroom environment and interactive platform developed by 2U, a leader in delivering selective graduate degree and undergraduate, for-credit programs online.

Unlike the Semester Online program, which will serve students from Northwestern and other consortium member universities, the new partnership with Coursera will deliver MOOCs and a different kind of opportunity to students across the globe.

It will enable Northwestern professors to try out new online teaching methods for a world audience. The same course could be taken by an advanced high school student in Evanston, a worker in Paris or a mother in Beijing.

The Coursera model offers non-credit courses through a platform that allows open enrollment with no admissions requirements, no tuition costs and an asynchronous course delivery, so students can complete the coursework at times convenient for them.

Elements of the procedures Northwestern faculty learn by helping develop MOOCs may be adapted over time to on-campus teaching at the University, as well.

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